Throughout NFL history, there have been some incredibly hard hitters on the field.
These players strike fear into even the strongest in the NFL with their brute force and disregard for the well-being of others.

These are the type of players that dominate the NFL betting odds as they are almost wildcards in their own right.


We have compiled a list of some of the hardest hitters the NFL has ever seen, some of which even changed the rules of football with their actions.


Lawrence Taylor

Taylor played his whole career with the New York Giants from 1981 to 1993. During his time with them, he won 2 Super Bowls and was awarded MVP in 1986.

He is known for being an extremely dominant defensive player with an intimidating aura that would put off the most veteran of players. He even managed to break Theismann’s leg, but unlike some of the other people on this list, he felt somewhat remorseful for it.

During his time in the NFL, he was awarded 10 Pro Bowls and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year 3 times. 

His jersey number has been officially retired by the Giants, and in 1999 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Dick Butkus

Famously it was said that Butkus attempted to put players in the cemetery instead of the hospital. If that doesn’t show how strong of a hitter he was, then nothing will.

Butkus played for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to his retirement in 1973. He was seen as a very disruptive player, only there to cause violence. He put fear into any player unfortunate enough to have the ball.

While with the Bears, he received 8 Pro Bowls and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. His number has been retired by the Bears, and in 1979 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.


Bill Romanowski

From 1988 to 2003, Romanowski played for the 49ers, Eagles, Broncos, and Raiders but spent most of his time with the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos.

He was an extremely violet tackler and was even described by his teammates as an extremist. During his time in the NFL, he won an impressive 4 Super Bowls and was honored with 2 Pro Bowls.


Jack Tatum

Jack Tatum
Photo: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports

Tatum played for the Oakland Raiders from 1971 to 1979 and then spent his final year with the Houston Oilers in 1980. In total, he won 1 Super Bowl and received 8 Pro Bowls, and was nicknamed ‘The Assassin.’

He is known as one of the hardest hitters due to his tackle on Darryl Stingley in 1978, which left him paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of his life.


Dick Lane

Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane started his career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1952 and then in 1954 went to the Chicago Cardinals. He later joined the Detroit Lion in 1960 until his retirement in 1965.

Lane’s status as a heavy hitter is mainly from taking advantage of the lack of rules back then. He would specifically tackle by the head and neck, clothesline people, and grab by facemasks in order to force people to the ground.

He was honored with 7 Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.


Jack Lambert

Lambert played his whole career with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974 to 1984 and was a part of the famous defending line known as the ‘Steel Curtain.’

In his first year with the NFL, he was awarded Defensive Rookie of the Year, and 2 years later, in 1976 was awarded Defensive Player of the Year.

He won 4 Super Bowls with the Steelers and was a Pro Bowler 9 times. In 1990 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.


Deacon Jones

Jones is the player responsible for coining the term ‘sacks,’ of which they were his specialty being the NFL sacks leader 5 times.  He was also known for the ‘head slap’ maneuver, which is now not allowed in the NFL.

He played most of his career with the Los Angeles Rams from 1961 to 1971, and his number was later retired by them.

He was named Defensive Player of the Year twice, was honored with 8 Pro Bowls, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.


Steve Atwater

Atwater played for the Denver Broncos from 1989 to 1998 and then his final year in 1999 with the New York Jets. While he was a safety, he played more like a linebacker.

During his time in the NFL, he racked up over 1,000 tackles, was an 8-time Pro Bowler, and won the Super Bowl twice. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020.

Atwaters most memorable tackle was against Christian Okoye, who was known for breaking tackles. Atwater stopped Okoye in his tracks.


Final Thoughts

The players that hit the hardest are usually some of the most controversial.

While they may not be everyone’s favorites, you can’t deny their tackling force.


Featured Image: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports
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